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tv   KQED Newsroom  PBS  August 16, 2014 2:00am-2:31am PDT

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next on kqed newsroom, will california schools make the grade with kcurriculum requirements. controversy one year later and how robin williams helped make san francisco a comedy empire. >> god, it's good to be home. i'm not lying. i can't lie to you. it's not nice to be home with the birds to wake up.
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good evening and welcome to kqed newsroom. i'm thuy vu. kids will be put to the test with policy changes. the funding formula devised by jerry brown puts local districts in control how they spend education funding and provides money for low-income students and english learners. the national common core standards takes full effect this year. they drastically change how students are taught and tested. joining me now for an explanation are california state school board president michael kurst and jill tucker. michael, let's begin with you, the new so-called local control funding formula is a traumatic shift for school districts. can you explain how it works and why is it needed? >> the old system of financing
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was a historical accretion back to the 19 60s. it did not adjust for different people's needs. it was convoluted and impossible to understand and relied on state earmarks telling schools to spend money on librarians or school gardens or whatever. >> all from sacramento -- >> heavily indicated from sacramento and we had 41 of these programs that consumed about 1/3rd of the budget. the change made was to throw that out and start over. so now, essentially, you get a target for spending and for low income districts. you'll get about 50% more for people over the next five to six years. you get a base amount. if you have low income children or english learners or foster
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care, you get 20% or a concentration of more than 55% of these people, you get even more money, a much bigger jump of money, about 50% more. so it is much more pupil direct directed. it's adjusted for grades, elementary schools. >> so the change -- >> it does all these things. >> how dramatic is the shift, jill? you've been covering education for many years and i don't want to say how many -- >> yeah. >> i never thought that i would see the this change in my career. the old formula as mike saidconn sacramento. this new local control funding formula basically completely tossed out the old system and i
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just never thought that i would see sacramento get that momentum to take something that was so embedded in what layers of policy and political desires and in the hands of sacramento and to say, we're cutting all that and we're throwing the cash at the school districts, almost no strings attached and saying we want you to focus on these higher needs kids. >> so the momentum is there but there are definitely concerns, as well, schools already have plans in place on how to spend the money. are they sound plans? are there accountability factors built in? >> the law requires that every district have a plan in place of how they are going to spend the money and specifically the money for low income kids or english learners or foster children and so those plans are in place. they were made with community feedback, parent feedback. i think the concerns that a lot of people have, though, it was under the old system, as well,
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was how do you follow the money? is it transparent enough? will this money truly get to the kids who really need it or will it be gobbled up by special interest in the community or at school districts or schools individually, you know, for salaries for example, which is a fear. i think many school districts have really good plans. some are a little harder to understand, and i think that transparency and will this money actually get to the kids and make a difference? >> how are teachers responding, teacher's unions, administrators? i think there is a concern by some civil rights groups out there with middle class parents and teacher's unions being poin lit ki powerful, this could be diverted? >> it requires community and precipitation. school districts have run meetings with the communities
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and never been involved in local budgeting before like this. los angeles started out wanting to reduce the deficit and ended up with a formula that d distributes to low income schools. this changes public precipitation and it's how the resources will approve people's outcomes. the old system told you how to spend the money but didn't hold you for what you were trying to do with it. >> it allows with a lot more flexibility at local levels. in the past i used to say they would give you money if you wanted to buy pink curtains but you could only get the money if you wanted to buy pink curtains or textbooks or whatever. now each district can say we don't need that. we don't need textbooks. what we really need are librarians or litter si tutors and another district may say we want something else. so that's the funding component. this is also happening at the same time california is joining about 44 other states in fully
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implementing the federal common core standards this year. what is the purpose of common core and how has it changed the way students are taught? >> i think we've been implementing common core for several years and there is confusion. the common core standards are just that, standards. it says what kids should learn in each grade? now, how they learn that or what the kcurriculum is, what math problems they solve is very much a local issue. down to the school level or the school district level. and so it really is just shaking up a little bit of what kids are taught when. so under common core, you start bringing algebra concepts in at the early grades, kindergarten, first grade and those are maintained in a sequence as the kids get older. so it focuses a lot more on critical thinking and, you
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know -- >> and showing and demonstrating things -- >> showing -- >> multiple choice. >> as opposed to doing 20 questions of long division, they might look how you would use long division to create a garden of strawberries. >> it's done via computercomput. my understanding is it will toss out different followup questions based on how you answer. >> we're going from paper and pencil to computer adaptive. and if we give you questions and you're answering them, you get more multiple choice. more over, each student will get between an hour and an hour and a half this is like driving the car for your driver's test rather than answering multiple choice. this test will be like a problem on nuclear power, what you think, read various things and look at that and come up with your own views and draw from the
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facts in the articles are pieces of research reading. so it's a whole new ball game of very, very different kind of assessment theory and assessment implantation. >> so the standards sound like they will be tougher than what schools are traditionally accustomed to but if you have a system where students and teachers are teaching and learning the old way are going to be ready for the new standards. >> they will be ready dwquicker. we did that with our old asse assessment system. they are partially ready and once they see the assess sometime, they will believe what they have to do. >> we're still seeing the curriculum getting into schools. what the books are and what materials teachers use are being developed and incorporated.
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we're still seeing a lot of teacher training on the new standards, new curriculum used. it will be interesting watching the implantation. >> michael, just real quickly, i know this is supposed to close the achievement gap but if you have a system where, you know, maybe not all teachers and students are ready, do you think that it will actually close the gap or widen it? real quickly? >> i think it will bring all students up over time to a level where they are much better able to succeed in post secondary education or in job training and so i think we'll get kids to a much higher threshold and base. i think after that, you'll see more gap closing. >> all right. we'll have to leave it there. michael kurs thet, jill tucker. coming up, remembering robin williams and how he put san francisco on the map for comedy.
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first, it's been a year since the rim fire scorched 400 square miles in yosemite. it's the largest recorded fire. this week a hunter pleaded not guilty to charges he started it with an illegal campfire. lauren summer recently visited the area to see firsthand the lingering impact and to report on restoration efforts. i spoke with her earlier. lauren, welcome to the program. >> hi. >> you recently returned from your visit to the area destroyed by the rim fire. how do things look there now? >> it's still a dramatic landscape. for folks driving up yosemite, you'll notice. this is a huge fire characterized by patches of severe burns. when you go there, you see trees completely charred, no pine needles left. it's an intense thing to see but we're seeing signs of recovery. you see the carpet of bright green on the ground, ferns and oak trees, plants starting to
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come back. it's still very dramatic, but, you know, a year later things are starting to improve. >> if you look back at the fire, it was so huge. i mean 400 square miles of timber land were charred. that's a lot of dead trees. what is the u.s. forest service proposing to do? >> yeah, the concern is these trees will stand for maybe a decade, maybe longer but after that they will fall down. their concern is having the trees on the ground is really going to be a fire risk. when the next fire comes through, the fuel will make it intense. what they are proposing to do is allow logging companies to come in and harvest the trees in about 44,000 acres. obviously, l logging companies are excited about that. they think it would be a boost to the local economy. they say the wildlife that uses dead trees as habitat, the black bat woodpecker live in the trees, eat insects and this is a really rare habitat type that
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needs to stay on the landscape. that's where we're seeing the fight. >> how much of this is a quandary for the u.s. forest service? the mandate is multi purpose. on one hand to provide wildlife habitat that makes the environmentalist happy but the other is to produce timber. so how are they going to resolve that? >> this is the internal struggle of the forest service, that it's been this way for decades. they call themself a multi use agency and satisfy a lot of different people. the interesting thing is part of the fire burned in yosemite national park and they don't have the same mandate. they are there to protect the echo system. the management styles are different in both places. >> in audition to the salvation idea and the operation is huge, one of the largest federal salvation efforts in california in years, but in addition to that, is there a reforest plan in place? >> that's something they are working on. if they take out a lot of dead
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trees, they have an area they want to replant. this is a really standard policy and after big fires in the west, they have been doing this for a lot of years, where they come in and plant trees close together called tree plantations. when i was visiting the rim fire last fall, i went to a tree plantation that had gone in after 1987 and there was a big sign thanking the ddonors that it possible and all the trees were scorched. rim fire had burned through the dense trees. and so there are a lot of people saying let's look at the way we're replanting and maybe we're helping the fire along. so there is a lot of discussion about maybe trying to plant trees in the way that mimics the historical patterns. we had decades of smoky bear. the forests have gotten dense. if we replant, let's try to
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plant in open gaps, groups, areas that mimic the historical forest as opposed to dense plantations. >> perhaps a silver lining in that we're learning lessons as a result of the fire. >> yeah, certainly a high profile fire with yosemite. many people say maybe this is an opportunity to look at policies in place for decades and thing how we want to do things. >> real quickly, so much of the economy around that area revolves around tourism. has that been able to bounce back at all? >> yeah, a huge concern up there. the summer is when people are visiting yosemite and the businesses make most of the money in the summer. there is more optimism but things are getting better but another fire a few weeks ago outside yosemite. it's a concern businesses are feeling up there and want people to come back and visit. >> let's hope they do because the folks around there could definitely use the visitors. >> yeah. >> all right. lauren summer, thanks for joining us.
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>> thanks. as the world struggles to come to grips with the death of robin williams, here in the bay area we mourn the loss of one of our own. williams helped to establish san francisco as a comedy capitol with a thriving comedy scene and calf fee. kqed produced ten seasons of "comedy tonight" that featured performances by up and comers including dana, whoopee goldberg and ellen degenerous. >> they are the worst. is anyone a flight attendant? they are wearing so much makeup. you want to walk up and say how small is your head without the makeup? [ laughter ] >> scott shafer sat down with frank to reminisce about robin williams and the golden era and
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comedy of the city. >> it's clear from the outpouring of emotion this week in the bay area how robin williams touched so many people's lives. nowhere more than in the world of comedy. >> that's right. >> take us back to the 19 80s when you were producing comedy tonight right here on kqed and how did he fit in? >> during that period in the '80s all comedians seemed to migrate to san francisco whether from boston, from the midwest, you had bobby slaten from new york. everybody came here to get their chops together because the audience here in san francisco would welcome them, open up to them, and you could do anything you wanted to do. >> what role did robin williams have in creating that, because he obviously found that here, as well? >> right, he was a local. so he did anything he wanted and saw that, whether he worked at the boardinghouse with david --
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for david allen or even there is a couple north beach places that he performed at that are no longer there, the inner section. but these places, audiences, san francisco had hip audiences even there, believe it or not, but they would open up and he could do anything and he saw that of course, he developed his improve skills and went to julliard of course. >> he was open arms here. the audience had open arms and he developed that and he could be who he wanted to be. >> what did he do for the reputation? the people that came here, did they come here in part because of him and what he created here? >> part of that. he was really an icon. he auditioned at the holly city zoo for ""mork & mindy."
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>> good launching pad. >> good launching pad. >> the comedy scene here had so many clubs, ten, 12 clubs and six or seven part time. that whole scene just exploded. >> i remember, i think it was new years eve 1981 i was at a show at the other cafe in coal valley and who walks in around midnight but robin williams and pops up on stage, unannounced. how often did that happen and how was he doing it to be supportive of his fellow comedians. >> that happened a lot. he wanted to support clubs, you know, whether john fox and ann fox at the punch line, whether it was comedy day and jose simone at the comedy competition. he would show up everywhere. the other cafe, the holy city zoo which is world famous with
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john cantu. i mean, he would support all those clubs and i don't want to forget tom soyer at cobs. >> certainly, he supported the clubs, comedians, you would see him in the audience and obviously, putting together acts like bobcat, a couple weeks of cobs and, you know, it was -- he was just so supportive and part of the community. >> he had such a unique style, of course, hilarious stream of consciousness voices and it wfw unscripted. to what extend do you think people tried to emulate that. that was such a unique brilliance he had. to what extent did his style, the carefree unscripted nature, did it rub off on others? >> yeah, i think, you know, you can see some of that?
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jim carry and maybe bobcat a little bit. you know, you could see that craziness, the zaniness not only verbal but non-verbal -- >> very physical. >> very physical comedy and he wouldn't be afraid of going into the audiences. i mean, that was a big part of it, you know, and he would love that. he would love that. i worked on the first hbo special at the great american music hall and he had a list, he had a list of what he wanted to do and would move it around. he did two nights and, you know, he would move it around when it was suited, when it was right, he felt right. >> the early reviews of him, his very early stuff, not that well reviewed. he entered and did not win a comedy competition early. >> that's right. >> in his career. >> that's right. >> talk about that. >> it was one -- it was the first one and it was bill farly
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eventually won it and where is he? bill? you're okay. you're still okay. and robin came in second and the lights went down in the club and what happened was they had -- bob said okay, when the lights go on, everybody sing happy birthday and the lights went on and boom, it -- that moment, that improve moment won it for bill and robin came in second and another san francisco came in third. >> sometimes that's like american idol, the second place finisher does well. >> that's right. >> i'm sure there is going to be some sort of public memorial for robin williams and so many people will want to participate in that, but what do you think is his legacy on the scene here in the bay area? >> i think on the scene in the bay area, you know, bill gram was huge worldwide and he's missed. jerry garcia certainly is missed worldwide and i think robin will
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be missed worldwide because he touched everybody and comma dec feel comedy is an art form and he was at the pinnicle, to make everybody laugh, when you touch people that way it's a gift and he will be missed not only here but around the world. >> and what a wonderful legacy and clips and movies and standup bits that we have. thanks so much for coming in and reminiscing about robin williams. >> thank you. and joining he now for a look at what is coming up on kqed news is scott shafer, hi, scott. >> hey, the thuy. >> republicans and democrats came together for a $7.5 million
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water bond on the november ballot. this replaces a previous $11 million bond measure. why did it take so long? >> everybody agreed that $11 billion bond was too big, governor brown didn't want a big, big bond measure because he is working for responsibility, the last thing he wants is to take on more debt and ask people to do that. it's about what republicans wanted. they had leverage in the state capitol. they had to get a 2/3rds vote so they needed republicans. they wanted more water storage, dams, reservoirs and democrats want more money for clean water, restoration of the delta. everybody had to give a little bit, get a little bit and came up with something they could live with and passed the senate unanimously with two no votes and the governor got a big win and the legislators are sending out press releases saying what a victory it is. >> a bipartisan compromise,
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imagine that. real quickly, does this have any impact on governor brown's controversial for the twin delta water tunnels? >> that is a separate project. some worry some of this money could get funneled over to the tunnels. we've seen that happen before where a bond measure gets passed and find ways to move the money around. it shouldn't really have anything to do with that. >> speaking of water, you were in the central valley this week taking a look at the effects of the drought taking to farms, farm workers, rather farmers and others. what did you see in terms of the impact the drought had there? >> you know, it's the best of times and worst. on one hand, we saw orange groves where, you know, acre s and acres, thousands of oranges dead because there was no water for them and the growers decided to let them die. it was very stark. on the other hand, you could drive down a road and see on one hand thriving orange trees and on the other side, they are dead. some growers have ground water and some don't but clearly, the
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farm workers are feeling it, as well. they often don't have enough water even to do their dishes and bathing. >> so if the farmers are not getting water from the state and it's not raining, where are they getting their water from? >> largely from -- they are getting a little from the state but mostly ground water. the number of ground water permits has more than doubled where we were in just the last couple years and there is no regulation. they don't know how much water is being drilled, how much is left, how quickly is the big straw sucking up all the water. so we see some slide a little bit which has cause for some concern and calls in the legislature to start regulating that. california is a state that doesn't. it is definitely a concern because as we saw with this one farm worker family, their ground well dried up. they had no -- they had no options for water. >> and in the meantime, the economic impact goes on. signs everywhere, no water, no
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job. >> no water, no jobs. people talking about it everywhere, talkcafe, we'll have more on it. >> for all of kqed's news coverage, go to kqed news.com. >> i'm scott shafer thanks for joining us. >> i'm thuy vu. tune in next week for rehabilitation for prisoners serving life sentences. thanks for watching, have a good night.
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